Azerbajian GP: Perez fastest in second practice, Mercedes struggle

Sergio Perez topped the second practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as Mercedes’ struggles continue with neither driver in the top ten.

The afternoon session started where the first practice left off with several drivers struggling to cope at turn 15 and 16, going off to the run-off area, while Valtteri Bottas locked up into turn three in the opening five minutes of the session.

Unfortunately for Bottas things didn’t get much better there, finishing in sixteenth, and Lewis Hamilton’s frustrations from Monaco seemed to have travelled to Baku, with the world champion in eleventh.

Matters were made worse for Mercedes as their championship rivals, Red Bull, topped the session as Sergio Perez had a confident afternoon session in Baku, topping the timesheets and one-tenth quicker than his team-mate Max Verstappen in second, who was fastest overall in the morning.

Nicholas Latifi caused mayhem at the beginning of the session as he forced the red flags to be deployed for a small amount of time.

The Canadian ran off at turn 15, reversed back onto the track, but his engine came to a stop when pulling away, ultimately ending his session.

Ferrari seemed to be carrying momentum from Monaco, with Carlos Sainz in third and Charles Leclerc in fourth, although the Monegasque had a moment to forget halfway through the session when his front right wheel locked up and drove straight into the barrier at turn 15.

The Italian-based team look to have the upper hand on their rivals so far, with McLaren only having Lando Norris (8th) in the top ten, while Daniel Ricciardo finished in the thirteenth, failing to build on a confident morning session.

Rounding off the top ten from the afternoon session was Fernando Alonso in sixth, with his Alpine team-mate, Esteban Ocon, in ninth.

Alfa Romeo’s Antonino Giovinazzi ended the session in seventh, three tenths quicker than veteran team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, and Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda (10th) rounded up the top half, making up a difficult first practice that saw the rookie driver struggle to find his reverse gear.